Ten years before it became legal in 1973, Susan Johnston had an abortion. She was a teenager and her boyfriend was in college. At first, they planned to get married. He would quit college and work with his father on his soft drink route. But reality hit Johnston and depression took over. She realized that for many reasons it was not a good idea. Through a secret network in a different state, Johnston was able to get an illegal abortion – something she never wants anyone else to have to experience. Most of all her two granddaughters. And, importantly to all, her boyfriend finished college and graduated from law school eventually.
“Without Roe v. Wade without access to safe, legal abortion, women will have no choice but to turn to illegal, potentially unsafe options — and they may not be as lucky as I was. We cannot, we must not, go backwards,” Johnston, 71, said. She is a volunteer at Planned Parenthood.
Johnston told her moving story at a press conference called today by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) to emphasize how important it is that President Trump’s soon to be announced Supreme Court nominee be someone who can uphold a balance of power on the Executive Branch.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) recalled that in the first week of his presidency, Trump has attacked women’s reproductive rights, revived two pipeline projects that will damage our environment and targeted Muslims from entering the country. “Courts have already had to step in to keep lawful residents of this country from being deported, It’s clear we need a Supreme Court that can keep the powers of the Executive Branch in check. I hope to see a nominee who has the credentials and commitment to our constitution – not to a president – to serve a lifetime appointment in our nation’s highest court,” said Pingree.
“This is too broad a brush since it covers green card holders as well,” said Pingree, when asked about the the ban on immigrants. She noted that none of the countries in which Trump owns hotels was on the banned list. “That raises questions. I’m flat out appalled,” said Pingree in response to a question about appointing Steve Bannon to the National Security Council and demoting several other regular members. Some of these matters could end up at the Supreme Court and that’s why it’s important to have a qualified nominee from President Trump.
“At a time when the president of the US is claiming unprecedented executive authority, we need the Legislative and Judicial branches of government to act as a check and a safeguard for our most fundmanental constitutional rights. And that responsibility will extend to any new federal judges, including supreme court justices, who are nominated,” said Zackary Heiden, of the Maine ACLU.
Heiden cited numerous rights that our constitution guarantees to its citizens. Freedom of Speech is one of them and yet the “current administration took steps to silence government employees who attempt to share information in the public interest with the public. (The EPA.) These aren’t secret government military plans we are talking about either. These are scientists who do research on our health and the environment.” And yet as Pingree pointed out, Trump “understands the importance of free speech since he has been vocal on all sorts of subjects.”
“We all have a roll to play in ensuring that the next supreme court justice is committed to justice and equality,” said Heiden at the packed reading room of the Maine Law School, Portland.